Dr. Matt describes his day as a Veterinarian at a pet hospital, treating mostly cats and dogs but also sometimes rabbits, mice, rats, and chickens. He loves his fast-paced work, seeing patients every 20 minutes and performing 4-8 surgeries in a day. His advice: seek employment at a vet's office while you're still in high school. Vet schools require many hours of experience before even applying, and you can get a head start!
Veterinarians care for the health of animals. They diagnose, treat, or research medical conditions and diseases of pets, livestock, and animals in zoos, racetracks, and laboratories.
The following are common types of veterinarians:
Companion animal veterinarians treat pets and generally work in private clinics. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 77 percent of veterinarians who work in private clinical practice treat pets. They most often care for cats and dogs, but also treat other pets, such as birds, ferrets, and rabbits. These veterinarians diagnose animal health problems, consult with owners of animals, and carry out medical procedures, such as vaccinations and setting fractures.
Equine veterinarians work with horses. About 6 percent of private practice veterinarians treat horses.
Food animal veterinarians work with farm animals such as pigs, cattle, and sheep. About 8 percent of private practice veterinarians treat food animals. They spend much of their time at farms and ranches treating illnesses and injuries and testing for and vaccinating against disease. They also may advise owners or managers about feeding, housing, and general health practices.
Food safety and inspection veterinarians inspect livestock and animal products and enforce government food safety regulations. They may inspect livestock, checking the animals for E. coli and other transmittable diseases. They check for food purity and sanitation by inspecting food products, animals and carcasses, and slaughtering and processing plants. Others may work along the country’s borders in food safety and security, ensuring abundant and safe food supplies.
Research veterinarians work in laboratories, conducting clinical research on human and animal health problems. These veterinarians may perform tests on animals to identify the effects of drug therapies, or they may test new surgical techniques. They may also research how to prevent, control, or eliminate food- and animal-borne illnesses and diseases.
When deciding whom to admit, some veterinary medical colleges weigh experience heavily. Formal experience, such as work with veterinarians or scientists in clinics, agribusiness, research, or some area of health science, is particularly advantageous. Less formal experience, such as working with animals on a farm, at a stable, or in an animal shelter, can also be helpful.
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